Apr 9 2012
Moses was raised Egyptian. He knew he was Israelite and that Israelites worshipped the God of Abraham. But he had no reason to do so himself. The burning bush was a wake-up call; a personal encounter with the God of Israel. It changed Moses forever. Perhaps a personal encounter got you too?
After some deliberation Moses accepted God’s call to deliver Israel. When he asked whom he should say sent him, God says he should simply say ‘I AM has sent me to you’. Initially this sounds strange, but we need to understand Moses’ situation. ♦ Moses was from a world of Egyptian gods; these gods ruled towns and natural phenomena like rivers, mountains, the sun and the moon. When the God of Israel identifies himself as ‘I AM’ he saying, I am everywhere, I rule everything, I am before all things.
If I say ‘I am Gary, I am in Mombasa, I am a pastor’, I am limiting myself to Mombasa and being a pastor. I am not everywhere and I can’t do all things; but God is everywhere and can do all things. So he just says ‘I AM’. It’s a bit like surfing the internet. When we want to go to a web page we enter a web address in the address bar. The address begins with the main domain followed by its subsections, e.g. https://vineyard/connect/homegroups. So the God of Israel could have an address like: https://I AM/ God of heaven/earth/land/sea /middle east/ Israel. But being the God of Israel or the Middle East is very limited; it’s a bit like being the god of a river or town, so God deletes the subsections and just says: https://I AM.
When God says ‘I am who I am’, he is saying more. He is implying that he never changes, that he is reliable. The gods of Egypt were unreliable, having mood swings like humans. But I AM never changes. He can be trusted. And he calls his people to be like him; to be holy in all circumstances; in church on a Sunday and outside it in the week.
When God says ‘I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob’, he is adding to his identity by revealing his relationship with people Moses knew of. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are especially important because they point to the New Testament identity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Abraham was the father who went to sacrifice Isaac the son. And Jacob built the well that watered God’s people. It was at this well that Jesus taught about the well of the Holy Spirit within (Jn 4). Matthew 28 teaches us to baptize in the (one) name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The New Testament version of ‘I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob’ is ‘I am God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit’.
Jesus reinforced this when he said ‘Before Abraham was born, I am’ (Jn 8.56-59). Here he was claiming to be the ‘I am’ that existed before Abraham: Yahweh himself. By saying ‘before Abraham’ he deletes the identity ‘God of Abraham’ and just says ‘I am’ (Yahweh).
Paul tells us later (Phil 2.6-8) that Jesus was God, a humble servant, dying on a cross. That’s mind boggling! Yahweh, I AM on a cross? The Almighty God is a humble God – the only kind of God I would want to serve. The cross says it all. It describes our God perfectly, and it drives us to serve Yahweh from the heart. What are your thoughts? Feel free to comment below.